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East Trade Wind Coast 802

guiana, people, colombia and forest

EAST TRADE WIND COAST 802. Half-settled lowlands.—The north east trades, blowing across the Caribbean and the Atlantic, bring much rain to the northern lowlands of Colombia, of Venezuela, and of the three Guianas. (Figs. 540, 541.) Look at the map and see if you can tell why the Colombian section receives less trade wind rain than the Guiana section.

These hot lowlands are good for sugar, cotton, cacao, rice, and many tropic crops, but the climate is so unpleasant that little of the land is used. There are villages of grass-roofed houses, but in all the wide plain of northern Colombia there is only one large, modern sugar mill. Rice, bananas, and coconuts are the chief food of the people. There are some Indians, and many negroes whose ancestors were brought over as slaves. Only a few of the people are white. Even in the cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena less than one person in ten is white, but some of these are often well-educated and have traveled in foreign lands.

Near Santa Marta an American company has large plantations, from which bananas are brought to this country. (Sec. 375.) The natives of Colombia and Ecuador use a leaf fiber and weave by hand most of the Panama hats that we get in the United States. Sometimes a pack mule will come out of a forest path carrying several hundred dollars' worth of hats in the two bundles balanced across its saddle.

In northern Venezuela the Andes reach directly to the shore of the sea, leaving no room for a coastal plain. (Fig. 596.)

803. Unexplored forests.—The coast plain of the Guianas is mostly a great forest which is even less used than the plain of Colombia or western Venezuela. Indeed many parts of it are unexplored, and all of the people except a few forest Indians live along the shore where the trade wind blows. This wind is so constant, so moist, and so warm that plants seem to grow almost everywhere, on the trunks of trees, on rocks, even on the surface of the rivers. The giant water lily, the Victoria regia, has its roots in the mud and spreads upon the surface of the water its leaves as large as umbrellas, and its beau tiful white flowers as large as dinner plates.

British Guiana, the chief crops of which are sugar and rice, has more agriculture than Dutch and French Guiana together. Yet all the sugar fields of British Guiana would cover a space only ten miles by twelve; and all the rice fields, a space ten miles by nine. How long and how wide is this colony? Only part of it is under cultivation, and most of the work is done by people from India. They have been brought by the British government from their own crowded country to work in the empty lands of Guiana.

An important export of this district is balata gum, gathered by the natives from the trunks of trees in the forest, and used for making insulation for electric wires.